Greetings from the 2013 Radio Festival, in Salford. I’m here to take part in a debate about whether or not radio reflects the opinions and concerns of a broad enough tranche of the public. It certainly does a better job of this than TV; Radio Five (especially Nicky Campbell) and some of the local stations seem to reflect the views of middle England pretty well. Still, on Radio Four, you get the bien pensant toss rammed down your throat, almost without variation, which is a shame.
There are problems enfranchising the silent majority, though: they tend to be silent. This is most obviously evident on BBC1 Question Time, for example, despite the pretty rigorous lengths they go to in order to find a sort of “representative” audience. I remember doing a series of Today programmes off-base and one in particular was presented live from Dover in front of an audience. Dover was, apparently, in ferment over the levels of immigration in the town; fights, resentment and so on. But the audience didn’t even mention it and when we brought it up replied with: ‘Oh, absolutely bloody lovely people, pleasure to have them here.’